BOWLING GREEN — What had long been suspected became official Tuesday as Bowling Green State University announced that Louis Orr will not return as coach of the Falcons after seven seasons on the job.
The school sent out a statement Tuesday confirming that Orr’s contract will not be renewed. Orr, whose BG teams posted a 101-121 record, signed a two-year contract extension in October of 2009. That contract ended after this season, which saw the Falcons go 12-20 — the program’s second straight losing season and fourth with a sub-.500 record in five years.
“We want to thank coach Orr for his dedication to BGSU and his leadership in developing men of character in the Falcon basketball program,” BG director of athletics Chris Kingston said in Tuesday’s statement. “I want to personally thank coach Orr for his professionalism and wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors.”
Orr’s contract extension came after the 2008-09 season when he led the Falcons to a 19-14 record and an 11-5 mark in Mid-American Conference play. That team claimed the school’s first MAC regular-season title since 1999-2000, but lost in the MAC tournament and played in the NIT. Orr’s teams had a 54-60 record in league play and were 2-9 in conference tournament games.
Bowling Green’s season ended Monday night at Northern Illinois when the Falcons lost a first-round MAC tournament game in overtime. After the contest, Orr was philosophical when asked about his fate.
“We all want more,” Orr said. “I want these guys to experience more wins, more success. They work hard, and I want them to experience championships.
“I wish I could have given them more on that end.”
After the contest, junior guard Jehvon Clarke had nothing but praise for Orr.
“He’s a great guy and one of the best coaches I’ve ever played for,” Clarke said. “Coming in my freshman year, not playing a lot, we bumped heads a lot — and I didn’t understand. ...
“But I’ve always loved coach Orr. He’s more than a coach: He’s a father figure to not only me, but to a lot of players as well. He’s a spiritual guy, and you don’t see that a lot from coaches. ... I commend coach Orr; I appreciate everything he has done for me. I will always appreciate him.”
Senior Cameron Black echoed Clarke’s thoughts on Orr, adding, “My parents wouldn’t have sent me to any other coach except coach Orr. He’s been a real father figure. He’s a man of God that I can look up to. I appreciate my time here playing for him.”
Orr has spent 13 seasons as a head coach at the collegiate level, compiling a 201-201 record that included a 20-11 record in one season at Siena and an 80-69 mark in five years at Seton Hall. Twice Orr led Seton Hall to NCAA tournament berths (2004 and 2006 — his last season with the Pirates) and he also had teams earn two NIT and one CIT bid.
He was named Big East coach of the year in 2003 and MAC coach of the year in 2009.
Bowling Green signed one recruit to a national letter of intent during the early signing period, Bernard “B.J.” Edwards of Lehigh High School in Lehigh Acres, Fla. Edwards said Tuesday in a phone interview that his father spoke with Kingston by phone and that he remains committed to the program.
“I was in a state of shock when I got the news from my dad,” Edwards said. “But BG said it would honor my commitment and that they still want me.
“I understood that this could happen ever since I was first recruited. I understand this is part of the business, and I’m still 100 percent going to Bowling Green.”
The school announced that a national search for its 16th head coach would begin immediately.
Among the potential candidates for the position could be Jeff Boals, an Ohio State assistant whose MAC ties include playing at Ohio and coaching at Ohio and Akron; Brian Wardle, who in his fourth season at Wisconsin-Green Bay led the Phoenix to a 24-6 overall record and a Horizon League title with a 14-2 mark; Jay Larranaga, a BG alumnus who is an assistant coach for the Boston Celtics, and Stan Joplin, the former University of Toledo player and coach who has spent the past three seasons coaching at Springfield High School.
Orr’s coaching staff — which includes assistants LaMonta Stone, Dennis Hopson, and Louis Twigg along with director of basketball operations Megan Centers — remain on staff until a new coach is named. They will be given an opportunity to interview for jobs on next year’s staff.